LITIGANTS IN PERSON AND THE USE OF COURT TIME: AN EXAMPLE OF THINGS TO COME?
The case of Zaman v Portsmouth City Council  EWHC 3592 (QB) makes interesting reading for anyone concerned about the effect that the increasing number of litigants in person could have on the court system.
The claimant sought payment of £10,674.27 (by the time of the appeal the dispute was about £2,574.87
“By the time that the parties had got to trial it was common ground that £10,674.27 was due to be paid to Dr Zaman but the parties were in dispute about whether it was a condition precedent to payment that Dr Zaman complete a form of authority for payment. The Judge found that of the sum of £10,674.27, the sum of £8,099.40 was a loan to be provided secured by a charge over Dr Zaman’s property. This meant that the parties were in reality arguing before me over whether a form of authority was a condition precedent to the payment of £2,574.87 (being the balance of £10,674.27 less £8,099.40)”
THE PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The action had started on the small claims track but the claimant applied to put in on the fast track.
THE ADJOURNED FAST TRACK TRIAL
“When the matter came on for hearing on 6 December 2016 on the fast track Dr Zaman had filed a 37 page statement and a bundle of over 800 pages was lodged. In a judgment on 6 December 2016 District Judge Ackroyd recorded that the clam had at one stage gone up to £19,000 but was now again £10,500. He recorded that the issue had become one of costs. He allocated the claim to the multi-track and the trial was heard at a later date”
THE MULTI TRACK TRIAL: 3 DAYS (YES 3 DAYS) OF COURT TIME
“The Judge had a day’s pre-reading, and there was a 2 day trial before the Judge on 11 and 12 July 2017. “
AND THEN AN APPEAL
The claimant lost at trial (it was held that there was a condition precedent). That appeal is recorded as lasting one day, with judgment being given 9 days later (hopefully without the attendance of the parties).
TIME WELL SPENT?
Ignoring case management hearings we have: one day for the initial fast track trial; three days for the trial; one day for the appeal. All for an issue of whether someone needed to sign a form to obtain £10,674.27 (or £2,574.87).